Forum Index > Trip Reports > Lewis River Trail - Washington’s Prettiest Riverside Trail?
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lcometto
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PostTue Jun 23, 2020 8:22 am 
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I’m convinced that the Lewis River Trail is the most beautiful riverside trail in Washington. Granted, I haven’t hiked every river in the state but this place is absolutely awesome. The river is a wonderful color, it contains a number of amazing waterfalls, and the forest is beautifully lush. I was first attracted to hiking and photographing it as part of my years-long project to document the best old-growth hikes in Washington. But the views and sound of the river are what left a lasting impression. If you’re interested, this is my project: https://www.lucascometto.com/cascadia-washington.

The trail starts near Forest Road 90 and travels northeast but there is a small section southwest of the road that leads to Curly Creek Falls. This waterfall is an underrated gem because it is one of only a handful of waterfalls in the world that crosses two natural arches. It’s best to catch this waterfall early in the season because it dries up later in the year.

Curly Creek Falls
Curly Creek Falls
Lewis River Trail
Lewis River Trail

Right away the trail throws hikers into amazing old-growth. Initially, the path hugs the cliff and has beautiful vistas down to river. This is my favorite aspect of the hike. Throughout its length the views from the trail across the river are sublime. The vegetation encroaches right to the water bank in several sections. Though the trees aren’t enormous, the old-growth, moss-laden environment is endlessly appealing. Hikers are treated to the calming sound of the water as they travel.

Lewis River Trail
Lewis River Trail
Lewis River Trail
Lewis River Trail

Later, as the trail drops down to a flat area, the trees do get large. Huge Douglas firs and western red cedars grow in small groves. Everything is covered in moss and lichen, and surrounded by ferns. At about three miles, hikers encounter Bolt Camp Shelter, a historic cedar processing site from the 1930s. The shelter has been restored a number of times since then and is now essentially a lean-to for hikers escaping the rain. Further down the trail, the forest alternates between younger and older trees. That’s about where I turned around.

Lewis River Trail
Lewis River Trail
Lewis River Side Waterfall
Lewis River Side Waterfall

The trail continues for another eight miles. This northern section has some amazing waterfalls and all of them flow into the Lewis River. Fortunately, these waterfalls are easily accessed from Forest Road 90. Big Creek Falls, for example, drops more than 100 feet and flows into a deep valley. The trail from the road is no longer maintained and the views to the falls are a bit obscured but the trail is easily followed. Further north, both the trail and the road provide access to Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls - the three most visited falls in the region.

Big Creek Falls
Big Creek Falls
Lower Lewis Falls
Lower Lewis Falls

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Portfolio: www.lucascometto.com
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drm
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Joined: 24 Feb 2007
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Location: The Dalles, OR
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 1:30 pm 
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Yes, it is a gem, and as a low altitude hike (under 2000') it melts out early and is usually accessible by April or even March. And after 15 miles, it morphs into the Quartz Creek Trail, a very different type of trail with lots of ups and downs as it climbs the Dark Divide. Quartz Creek is not usually melted out till into July.
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lcometto
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 6:04 pm 
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drm - that's good information to know. Thank you. I really want to explore Quartz Creek sometime soon. I've read that there are some big trees and beautiful forests on that trail.

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